Have you heard of “Sizzurp”? How about its slang terms “purple drank”, “syrup”, or “lean” (as in it will make you lean over)?

What is it?

“Sizzurp” is a dangerous and potentially fatal concoction formulated to get people high. It typically contains the active ingredients promethazine with codeine (a prescription, controlled substance used for cough), a mixing agent – typically a fruit flavored soda, and a candy flavoring and coloring agent.

Why is it used?

“Sizzurp” has gained popularity especially in the hip-hop music culture. Its use has been glamorized in songs, rap videos, public venues and on social media. “Sizzurp” abuse is popular at parties, especially among the teen crowd, to produce a high. It may look harmless and taste sweet, but it has the potential to be deadly.

What are the dangers?

Codeine is an opiate and is classified as a narcotic controlled substance. It is in the same family of drugs as morphine and it has the potential to be addictive. It is used for its pain relief and cough suppressing properties. It can slow down the central nervous and respiratory systems in overdose. Promethazine has sedative properties and is used to help with nausea, vomiting, motion sickness, and pain. In overdose it can affect the heart and cause seizures. Promethazine in combination with codeine can cause significant central nervous system and respiratory depression, stopping the heart and lungs from working and be fatal.

What can you do to help?

While prescription drug abuse is an on-going and pervasive problem, the danger of having it in a tasty formulation raises worry for parents and health care professionals. Talk to your child about the dangers of “Sizzurp”. Knowledge is power, and as always if you have any questions about “Sizzurp” or any other drug information related questions, please do not hesitate to call the experts at the Cincinnati Childrens Hospital’s Drug and Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. We are here 24/7 to help you.


Author: Sheila Goertemoeller PharmD, CSPI, ICPS

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